Agile Adaptation - Sales have been a moving target in the present climate for a lot of companies and there are many contributing factors at play. The rumblings afoot are that 2013 and beyond could start to see increased activity for companies in areas that were not necessarily seen as mission critical or disruptive enough for investment. This activity should then start to filter down to the smaller businesses relying on them.
Equally, there are smaller, more disruptive businesses that are doing things that will probably see them grow bigger and faster as Google did in its early days.
In all market conditions there will be a group of businesses that are doing well and others that are not. Your ability to adapt and change is what will ensure continued survival in the face of this upheaval.
De-blitzing – Whilst automation is being adopted by sales and marketing teams, too much focus has been placed on the tech. to “blitz activity” rather than improving the nature of the activity supported by the technology. To avoid brainless cold calling which only wastes time and reduces the extractable value from such investments more thought must be placed on creating useful and personal campaigns and outcomes
Multi-channel – Prospecting is no longer just about the phone. Social networks like LinkedIn have over 135 million users and currently grows at two new users per second, with most in the 25-54 demographic. You need a profile that gets you noticed and gives your people and company traction. You also need to know how to use it to build your network and improve your detective skills to connect, communicate and collaborate with the right people and prospects.
Hidden Cycles – Customers are more self sufficient than ever and may choose to engage with sales much later in the buying cycle where they are assisted remotely to make their decision. Conversely big ticket sales are often won at the early stages of a buying cycle with sales consulting helping to shape a buyers requirements. Ultimately its still based on relationships and they need suppliers that understand their pains and know how to meet their needs by delivering real value. So whether remotely or face to face your “selling” should focus on what’s important to your buyers.
Mobilisation – Mobile device management, BYOD and general smartphone adoption has seen a rapid increase. In the UK, Spain, Canada, Italy, the US and France its equal to or above 40%, as of 2011. This has led to an increase in mobile media usage of 9.2% in the EU5 (FR, DE, IT, ES, UK) and 11.6% in the US. The US and UK has surpassed 50%, as of 2011. Internet traffic from devices other than computers are also beginning to show, with 9.2%, 8.2% and 5.1% of all Internet traffic in the UK, US and India, respectively coming from connected devices (mostly mobile phones and tablets) according to a recent comScore report more worldwide mobile stats can be found here.
Content Disruption – Customers and prospects are consuming content in all sorts of formats from info-graphics to videos and white papers. Sales must be equipped with content that is both industry and role specific which challenges them to think about what they are doing and how and why they are doing it. Whilst your views and opinions are useful they are not enough by themselves to influence others so ensure your content contains supporting evidence and market opinions that support your arguments.
Mixed-modes – The car and phone with a bit of email can no longer do it all. We need to adopt a 360 degree, multi channel contact approach covering mobile phones, SMS, video, email and social along with offline activities. Research has shown that persistency is key to making and sustaining contact. The average company only makes 1.4 attempts to reach a lead, when it should be more like 6 to 9 depending on if they are cold or hot and you must use a variety of channels to increase your chances.
Inside Out – You’d be forgiven for thinking that working behind a desk with computer and telephone means the outside world never gets to see you. In the early days that might have been true. Profiles and websites enabled sellers and buyers to present a static digital presence remotely, however video is becoming increasingly a medium for consuming good content and now real time video is allowing buyers and sellers to meet online and face to face from behind their computer screens. So if content is king then video is queen.
Social Statements – Our reputations and brands which can be quickly “looked up” online and seen to play out live in social discussions will play an increasing role in our ability to have the right discussions with the right people. What does your blog, videos, twitter and community activity say about you and your businesses to potential prospective customers ?
No Boundaries – The limits of geographical territories are almost over. Sales people can work virtually from anywhere and social proximity that is relevant beats geographic proximity that is less or irrelevant. However there still is a case for local presence where a degree of “onsite” interaction is required with clients, which may be more technical . Many SaaS products for examples out of the box do not require any onsite interaction, however resellers can and do provide wrap around services and products to “tailor” or personalise those standard SaaS products or services to local clients.
Sustainable Training – Companies are using more sales training in a variety of modes that include live classroom, on-demand and virtual. Your ability to build an effective team will also be impacted by your “on boarding” capabilities at the beginning and how you reinforce that train on the backend. You training should not be coercive or needed to brainwash seeling “victims” as your selling should be focused on the trasference of real value.
Game Change – The safe and predictable linear paths of progress are out the window. All your “old school” sales tricks and tactics are dead in the water and customers have seen it all. You need to rediscover the 7 Golden Keys.